21-year-old steel construction apprentice Bailey Tama Dunn won the closely contested ATNZ Apprentice of the Year title at the annual ATNZ awards lunch at Hotel De Brett in Auckland on Tuesday, 6th December. Tama, of Māori descent, attended Hastings Boys High School and came to his engineering apprenticeship through the partnerships between that school, host company Patton Engineering and ATNZ.
Long-established Group Training Organisation ATNZ employs nearly 400 apprentices nationwide across the engineering and manufacturing sectors. Hence, competition for the top title was fierce, with the standard of entries outstandingly high. Tama, the Central Region Apprentice of the Year from host company Patton Engineering, was joined in the final by the Northern Region Apprentice of the Year Thomas Bayley from host company Stewart & Cavalier Limited in Te Awamutu and Southern Region Apprentice of the Year Georgia Johnson from host company Gavin Lowe Energy in Christchurch.
The judging panel comprised ATNZ CEO Tim Wilson, Hanga Aro Rau Industry Manager Matt Gough and Mike Jury from sponsor NZ Safety Blackwoods. The judges found it difficult to split the three Regional Winners and effusively agreed that they “represented the future of engineering in New Zealand.” Each finalist provided a portfolio of engineering work of the highest tradesperson-level standard. They had been undertaking project and site leadership roles with their host companies’ trust since their apprenticeships’ early stages.
In the end, Tama stood out and took home the top award. Hastings-based Regional Lead Ben Julian, responsible for Tama’s training, said, “Tama is what I call a poster boy for ATNZ and apprentice success.”
Matt Gough, Industry Manager for Hanga Aro Rau, who sat on the judging panel, was keen to add that ‘Tama impressed me in that he has been able to overcome real challenges through his apprenticeship. His determination to overcome these and to better himself allowed him to stand out in my eyes. He is, therefore, a deserving Apprentice of the Year.’
Patton Engineering is due a massive amount of credit for this achievement. When asked for comment, Sean Perry, Engineering Manager, said, “Tama’s journey at Patton Engineering has allowed him to grow from an adolescent at Hastings Boys High School into a successful adult tradesman. His passion, skill set, and work ethic have set the benchmark for young apprentices in the structural steel industry.”
In winning the ATNZ apprentice of the Year, Tama has done plenty to make his whanau, his employer and his profession proud of the man he has become.